Rupa Balachandran, PhD, associate professor and chair of the Department of Audiology, is on the front lines of audiology education. In 2018, she was appointed to the Accreditation Commission for Audiology Education (ACAE) board of directors and she stepped into the role on Jan. 1, 2019.
“Accreditation standards cannot be static, they have to change with emerging technologies, what is happening in the field and what professionals need to know,” said Dr. Balachandran. “To be part of the process that influences and guides the future of our profession, and the future of audiology education, is very exciting.”
The ACAE is focused exclusively on audiology and is committed to the on-going development of standards for audiology education. Their goal is to support audiology programs nationally and, in the future, internationally.
Pacific’s doctor of audiology (AuD) program has been awarded a ten-year accreditation status by the ACAE. “The AuD program at Pacific is committed to improving the lives of individuals with hearing impairments via excellence in student education, clinical services and cutting-edge research that strives to expand the frontiers of hearing health care,” Dr. Balachandran said.
“We are truly at a transformational time; audiology is moving from a clinical science to an experiential science.”
A self-proclaimed “hearing nerd” Dr. Balachandran is passionate about the profession. “Audiology sits at the heart of so many disciplines. Hearing is such a critical component of what we do every day. Hearing is at the center of our social self and our learning.”
The profession has evolved rapidly since 2007 when the doctorate degree became the entry-level requirement for audiologists. “Audiology is moving in ways that go beyond the traditional hearing test and hearing aid,” she said. She envisions a future where individuals have a “wearable” device customized to their hearing profile that allows them to listen to music, as well as interact with their phone, their car and other devices.
Audiologists are poised to be a part of “a very exciting frontier for science, education, technology and patient care.” Dr. Balachandran believes that as hearing experts, audiologists will be involved in a wide array of emerging technologies that involve hearing; opening up a broad avenue of industries and career paths. “We are truly at a transformational time; audiology is moving from a clinical science to an experiential science,” Dr. Balachandran said.
By Anne Marie H. Bergthold